Taking ERC’s funds for COVID-19 relief: an abuse of privilege

Dear Editor,
I write this letter disclosing my difference, disagreement, disappointment and dissatisfaction with our country’s ERC, with much reluctance. We are all humans, often slipping and sliding from our own high ideals, and we must allow ourselves, our leaders and leading institutions some room for reconsideration, recovery, remorse and return.
My difference, disagreement, disappointment and dissatisfaction with our ERC goes back to the days following our 2020 March 02 elections. I expected the Chairman and ERC to come out clearly adding their weight to the condemnation and rejection of RO Region 4 Vibert Mingo’s actions. Some might argue that that election’s issue was outside the mandate of the ERC. I reject that. Little else, if anything, could have been more germane to the “raison” for our ERC. Indeed, I believe that in our circumstances it is the essence of what our ERC is about.
Others argue that whilst what RO Mingo was doing was wrong, the ERC, if it were to speak, must speak also of the wider root cause of what Mr. Mingo and Mr. Lowenfield and others were doing. To just rebuke Mingo and Lowenfield would have been one-sided. I would have preferred that the ERC had proceeded to do both; firstly, condemn their actions, and then proceed to discuss the views and imaginations which would have motivated them to do as they did. The door to a national process of truth and reconciliation would have been opened, a necessary and essential process which could not normally be entertained nor entered into in the course of the criminal cases before the court. The most likely result now would be an increase in our estrangement and a hardening of our different and differing positions.
I refrained from public comment on our ERC during those long five months of our nation’s suffering and bleeding, in which I believed the ERC should have stepped in. I have also refrained until now in the discontent expressed publicly by ERC Commissioner Roshan Khan, amongst which is the G$150,000 Christmas Bonus. I will disclose that I have been sympathetic to his complaints, but I again hesitated to comment publicly, yielding to, as I excused myself, some other members of our civic community.
However, I must denounce that latest “explanation” by ERC Chairman, my respected junior schoolmate of so many years ago, the Rev. John O. Smith, that the G$150,000 was a COVID relief Commissioners had granted themselves. It was at minimum a great abuse of privilege, and if they were ordinary citizens of no great respect, they would have been thought guilty of converting the ERC’s allocations to their own benefit.
There is much more that could be said, but further I say not.

Yours sincerely,
Samuel A.A. Hinds
Former President and
former Prime Minister